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Studies in JDSF include dead standing trees, Imazapyr

August 11, 2021 — The Jackson Demonstration State Forest is the largest of eight so-called working forests managed by CalFire for a number of purposes, including timber production. This involves experiments to figure out how to replace hardwoods with conifers, especially the high-value redwoods that were logged so extensively for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

But the current Timber Harvest Plans in the state forest are hotly contested by a coalition of tribal groups and environmental activists. Alder, a member of the Mama Tree Network, was sitting in the now-iconic Mama Tree when logging started in the Caspar 500 on June 10th. Last week, he invited kzyx to take a tour of another site near Chamberlain Creek, where large numbers of trees had been treated with Imazapyr and left standing. 

Alder said he first noticed the trees about a month ago, and that he thinks they had been dead longer than the 90 days allowed by Measure V.

Measure V is a voter-approved initiative that has been on the books since 2016. It doesn’t prohibit the use of herbicides, but it does ban the practice of leaving dead standing trees for more than 90 days. Mendocino Redwood Company and CalFire say the law does not apply to them, and the State Attorney General declined to issue an opinion, citing a conflict of interest. It’s never been enforced.

CalFire confirmed that Chamberlain Creek is part of an experiment designed by Dr. Pascal Berrill of the University of Maine, formerly Humboldt State University. Berrill says the technique, called frilling, or hack and squirt, is one of several methods he’s using to determine the best way to restore forest resiliency and productivity, perhaps even reducing the risk of wildfire.

But John O’Brien, a climate scientist and postdoctoral research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, thinks the research is more economic than ecological. He argues that the hardwoods are an integral part of the forest, supporting the vital mycorrhizal network that shuttles water and nutrients among tree roots. He adds that creating a monoculture of redwood trees would result in a less resilient forest.

An item about Measure V is scheduled to come before the Board of Supervisors on August 17. Supervisor Ted Williams, who spearheaded the successful Measure V campaign before he ran for office, hopes to discuss the possibility of getting trusted independent third-party approval of management plans. Currently, those plans are approved by the state and written by CalFire, which he worries is creating public distrust.

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